On Monday August 18th I met my colleague Carol, who had not been able to come to my original farewell meal, at the Table Table restaurant after work. It was lovely to have so much time to chat together and share thoughts. She really enjoyed the meal we shared especially as there are a number of vegetarian meals to select from. She used to work mainly at the Wetherby Surgery but now she works most days at the branch surgery at Harewood, so I have not seen her except at staff meetings since that changed. She works at Wetherby on Friday when I did not work. In some ways sharing a meal with one person is more special than when everyone gets together, as we have more time to talk and catch up.
I was busy at work and so easily tired that I thought it would be sensible to see the doctor; the blood tests taken were normal and my doctor thought that once I retired I would feel more energetic and not to be too concerned about my tiredness.
On Thursday evening I went to St Peter’s Church for a meeting with those who were going on the march to save our NHS and found the discussions disturbing and interesting. I had spent a couple of hours in Harrogate town centre on the previous 2 Saturdays speaking up for the NHS. People looked at us as though we were mad at times but I kept shouting out to those who would listen, that we must not take our NHS for granted. I told the people that they should make every effort to attend appointments they had booked or cancel if unable to attend so other people could use those same appointments. We have been so fortunate to have free access to doctors and I am really concerned that soon apart from the National Insurance contributions we have all made people may be charged for stays in hospital, visits to the doctors unless we fight to stop that happening. The Coalition seem to feel that free access to care should be taken away as most of the politicians do not live in the real world and can afford to pay extra.
Most people on lower incomes can barely make ends meet paying for rent or food or fuel as prices have become astronomical. It is a disgrace that we have 2 food banks in Harrogate as there are so many desperate for urgent supplies of food. The lies the media spread that people on benefit are scroungers does not apply to the vast majority who are often in work in low paid jobs or the iniquitous ‘Zero hours’ contracts this government has brought in.
The bedroom tax is also iniquitous as since Margaret Thatcher instigated the selling of council houses there are a shortage of them and really long waiting lists for families to be housed; often there are no smaller properties to rent. To penalise the poorest in our society does not make for a fairer society. The raising of the tax threshold only helps those who earn enough to pay tax and it also helps the higher rate tax payer, who let us remember have been given tax cuts. Since this government came in VAT has gone up for EVERYONE and of course it is the lower waged people who are most affected. The increases in the cost of fuel which affects those especially on low incomes, is far more expensive on in home meters; as my daughter Beth found when she took possession of her new home and it took about a couple of months to change from the meters to ordinary gas and electric meters. She had to keep them topped up or her heating and lights would go off. Her new home had been a privately rented property before.
Oh dear, I had not meant to get into this rant but it is true and the right wing media propagate lies, as does this government. If only everyone who has a vote would exercise that hard won vote then maybe they could stop saying it does not matter if they vote, it makes no difference. Of course it would make a difference if we all voted; look at Scotland and how many voted in the referendum; the result truly reflected Scottish opinion. This government is making it even harder to register to vote as it would not be in their interest for many to vote, whatever the adverts seem to say.
The media love to blame Labour for everything. I just wish the Labour party had told the truth from the beginning. Gordon Brown whose impassioned speeches saved the union, despite having been so vilified as the prime minister, had really set the economy moving again after the crash. The deficit had been reduced from when they had taken over from the Tories, despite the government blaming Labour for everything, even the global crash! Gordon Brown may not have been able to give the sort of sound bites the media love but he understood and understands economics.
The present government lied about what it was going to do, such as destroying the welfare state and the NHS by so many top down reforms!
The Liberal Democrats supported the Tories to do all this and yet people do not see what is happening. Gordon Brown was humiliated by the media, taunted, hounded and even not supported by some of his own party, but he stood his ground. Despite the media he was not absolutely defeated in the last election, as the Tories needed the Liberal Democrats to bring through their swingeing destructive reforms! Perhaps people don’t know that Gordon Brown will only receive the normal pension not the one prime ministers are entitled to. Perhaps they also don’t know how sort after Gordon Brown is as a speaker and that his earnings are not added to his own bank balance but always given to charities he supports. He may have made some slip ups but he is only human and those mistakes were exploited constantly by the biased media.
People seem more able to forget David Cameron’s temper outbursts and his faux pas and not recognise his broken promises; maybe the media’s memory is shorter and they choose to concentrate on every omission Labour makes, any short comings of the Labour politicians. It is amazing that the media is so good at drawing attention away from Tory failings to those of Labour. I know the Labour party have made and continue to make mistakes as the progressive (Blairites) try to make the party more right wing. We need more policies which support the low paid, cut taxes for the rich, and more investment in proper jobs, more social housing which is affordable to rent.
UKIP will be even more right wing than the Tories if that is possible. I send plenty of letters to our Tory MP but he follows the party line on most occasions, or often seems unable to vote as he is a private parliamentary secretary; still I do try to put my views forward. I will never give up fighting for the poorer and vulnerable parts of our society.
I am so fortunate. I have my own home, a good income on my pensions; so good that I pay basic rate tax on all my pensions, a small NHS pension, my AVC, my teacher’s pension, on which the tax has increased now I receive my state pension. I am quite happy to pay tax as I know I am privileged to have sufficient income to pay tax. I just wish that the richer would pay their fair share of tax, instead of avoiding tax. I know that I have more than some people earn and do not have to pay rent. However I had support from the ‘terrible’ welfare state, when I was unable to work which enabled me to retrain and recover from my breakdown, for which I will ever be thankful. My beloved with his state pension and 2 small private pensions does not have enough coming in to pay tax. There are pensioners, just on state pensions who have a limited income to pay the increased costs or rents and have never paid tax. No one could possibly believe the Tory ‘promises’ that they will work for a ‘fairer’ society after the general election; they have not kept promises before and they have made society more divided and less fair in this term of their being in government.